I just spent this morning reviewing most every play from Baylor’s game last night ...
BAYLOR - TEXAS ST REVIEW THREAD— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 5, 2021
I'll focus mostly on the offense, but Baylor started on defense so I'll start there. I think TSU is optioning Ika here? Good job playing their gaps. Pitre stays outside leverage, Doyle stays inside, allows secondary run defenders to make the play. pic.twitter.com/RZQr1GA9WO
And after watching again, here are my major takeaways from last night’s game:
- yeah, the production quality was terrible. If you want to read a good post about it, I recommend the one by the ever witty and concise Kendall Kaut.
- Gerry Bohanon is Baylor’s QB, and he’s going to be good. So much of what Baylor’s offensive potential was guesswork because really, nobody knew exactly what Bohanon was going to look like. Gerry surprised me in two main ways. First, his arm strength and overall release were better than I realized. His ability to rocket out 30-40 throws on a rope for easy first downs when teams play soft coverage is a massive gamechanger for the Baylor offense.
This is when I began to swoon. This is a 35-40 yard throw for an easy 9 yard gain on 1st down. Once you show the D that you can do this, things start to really open up. Baylor hasn't had a QB that could do this since 2016. pic.twitter.com/BCii4idP75— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 5, 2021
Second, his ability to be extremely decisive in the boot and play action game was terrific to see. They’re really only asking him to make one read, but he’s doing it and getting the ball where it needs to go.
This is a STRONG throw by Gerry. Very impressive. Cool, calm, and collected. pic.twitter.com/TWCmV8vdMn— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 5, 2021
He missed on several of his attempts deep down the field, but they were all close except for one. As he continues to build his chemistry with his receivers, those throws should begin to connect more often. If they aren’t connecting by the early in conference play, that severely limits the potential of Baylor’s offense. But regardless, Baylor showed yesterday that their offense will be competent this year and has the upside of pretty dang good.
- Offensive line play was overall very strong. I thought 3 of Baylor’s OL—LT Connor Galvin, C Jacob Gall, and RT Khalil Keith—were dominant last night. OL coach Eric Mateos is going to turn LT Connor Galvin into a mid-round NFL draft pick. Center Jacob Gall, a transfer from Buffalo, was everything we expected, knowing his job and able to reach and turn defensive lineman. After he came in for starting RT Gavin Byers, Khalil Keith was just burying dudes on every play. At RG Grant Miller doesn’t have the athleticism of his teammates, but he plays physical and with a lot of intelligence and probably has solidified himself at that position.
Another wide zone run. Pay attention to Gall at C here and Galvin at LT. Gall is able to execute the crucial skill of reaching and turning the 2i lined up to his left. Galvin is able to bury the 5 tech lined up to his left. TSU has numbers here but Baylor gets a fine gain. pic.twitter.com/P9MXRpb1jL— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 5, 2021
- Now they just have to solidify who their starters are at LG and RT. Xavier Newman-Johnson and Micah Mazzccu continue to battle at LG; I thought that Mazz got the better of XNJ last night, but they both had their moments. Gavin Byers and Khalil Keith both played at RT and, while Byers played well overall, I thought Keith was dominant. I bet they’ll continue to battle over the next two games and hopefully have things figured out by the Iowa State game.
- Baylor is going to be aggressive on 4th downs, and this is incredible news. Especially as a run-centric offense that is going to chunk out a lot of plays with 4-6 yard gains, it makes a massive difference playing with 4 downs instead of 3. Baylor going for it on 4th and 1 from their own 35 yard line was incredible to see last night. This really elevated the potential of Baylor’s offense. The statistics are very clear on this question—if you’re ever really considering whether you should go for it on 4th down, you should. Teams like Army, Navy, Tulane, and others are going for it on 4th down on average over 3 times per game. Baylor likely will as well.
- The coaching staff showed that they’re going to play the best guys. At pretty much every position, guys were rotating in and out and if you made a mistake you were liable to get pulled. After bringing a ton of starters back, doing this is necessary to make sure that the veteran starters don’t get complacent.
- The defense looks like a veteran, able group. We know what we have in Pitre and Bernard. Overall, the unit knows the scheme and just knows what they’re doing. JT Woods’ interception was a perfect example of this.
After the fumble by Abram, the very next play is the pick 6 by JT Woods. It's a great "old man" play by two guys who are veterans now. Woods knows that with the field blitz by Pitre the QB will throw the hot route. JT jumps it and makes a GREAT hands catch. JT -> draft pick. pic.twitter.com/q54zYEL9AB— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 5, 2021
- The defensive line has a lot more depth than last year. I was particularly impressed with Cole Maxwell and Gabe Hall. Both looks very athletic and were displaying a lot of hustle.
More misdirection from TSU. Look at the athleticism from Gabe Hall at the field DE spot. This is bad from Matt Jones. He needs to set the edge and push that ball back inside, not go for the hero play and give up the sideline. pic.twitter.com/a1PCdX2vdt— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 5, 2021
- Apu Ika was significantly underwhelming, hopefully he uses that film as motivation to improve in the coming weeks. Christian Morgan made a few of his same mistakes that he was making last year.
- This game was not as close as the final score. Baylor out-gained Texas State 5.6 yards per play to 3.5, an advantage of 2.1 YPP that is absolutely massive (teams with that margin win by an average margin of 24 points). Baylor had a “success rate” (a measure of what percentage of your plays were successful) of 47% and held Texas State to 38%. Baylor moved the ball more or less at will on nearly every possession. If Abram Smith hadn’t fumbled, and if they had correctly called Josh Fleeks’ touchdown a touchdown (I know, coulda shoulda woulda) Baylor is probably looking at a 28-7 halftime lead. Texas State had to string together a few bad penalties by Baylor and some crafty escapability by their QB to get anything going, they didn’t do anything with their base offense.
- Baylor needs Garmon Randolph, the presumed starter at JACK, to get healthy. Right now, with their 300 lb DEs, Baylor is struggling to get a pass rush without sending Bernard or Pitre. While it’s still a good idea to send one of those quite frequently, you don’t want to be in a position where you need to to have any chance of getting home. Randolph could be the difference maker Baylor needs at that position.
- Jalen Pitre finished with 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 pass defended, and 1 interception. As I predicted, he’s on his way to Big 12 defensive player of the year.
- I was impressed with Trestan Ebner in the base running game. He was tremendous fighting through the initial contact to ensure that he didn’t just get 2 yards but fought ahead for 4-6.
- Baylor has the WRs to do some serious damage in the jet sweep game, but they’ll need to get better blocking from their TEs and WRs on the perimeter to make it work. Those guys showed the effort on Saturday, they just need to keep working on it.
- Gerry has a lot of potential in the run game that wasn’t needed last night. Only calling maybe 2 or 3 designed QB runs, that will be a big part of the offense in conference play that just wasn’t needed to win last night. No need to risk hurting your QB when you can run into the teeth of the defense and still get positive gains.
- Overall, Baylor’s upside this year is higher than I figured before the game. Gerry looks like he can comfortably operate in all areas of the passing game, though he needs to prove he can reliably be accurate on the deep ball. If he can do so, the offense could be legitimately great. But even if he can’t, they’ll still be good, they’ll just have to rely on stringing together longer drives.
Hit me up with your thoughts below! Thanks for reading.